Who hasn’t tried to surf a pounding, mockingly hollow shorebreak in desperate times? Maybe the tide was too high but you had no time to wait? Perhaps the banks weren’t working properly? Or howling offshore winds trashed the session? No matter: we jump in and make the most of it – and sometimes wish we hadn’t.
Bodysurfing is the low-commitment alternative to taking your board in that could just turn out to be – shock horror – a more fun return on your time. Coupled with a decent pair of fins, Sole’s handplanes get you precisely sliced into each wave face, and work especially well in French-style take no prisoners shore-dumps.
The compact device has a concaved face that seems to assist with body movement down the wave, and cutting a line in left or right is certainly easier than with hands alone.
Swimming through and under waves with any handplane attached takes a little getting used to, but with time you adjust to having one big strong arm alongside a crap, normal one. However, the thin lightweight design of the Sole Handplane makes this task a lot easier.
The padded, velcro binding keeps your hand snuggly in place, though gripping on at times of maximum chaos is an essential skill. Luckily the planes come with a removable wrist tether so you don’t have to worry about losing it.
There would seem to be little chance of that foam getting damaged
The ‘pocket rocket’ model tested is of composite construction and features a high-density foam core. The plane has printed graphics on the bottom and these are finished with a tough epoxy. There would seem to be little chance of that foam getting damaged, since the outer layers consist of a smooth, tough laminate that seems to cope fine with a good beating. Buoyancy is set at just above neutral, meaning the handplane should hang around if you lose it (not recommended). An alternative construction called the ‘Woodie’ caters for the traditionalists: laminated hardwood with an acrylic finish to prevent delamination.
As far as summer fun goes, bodysurfing is the perfect mess-around activity to counter any ‘serious’ wave search. Using a handplane means you can actually ride waves properly, without removing the inherent freedom brought by swimming around boardless.
Just do watch out for oncomers – a handplane in the face is a surefire way to grab some hot summer A+E queuing.